By Alan Pergament
This is what I’m thinking:
The love Western New Yorkers have for this year’s March Madness continued Saturday night with record local ratings for the national men's basketball semifinals in Atlanta for two close games decided in the final minute.
Michigan’s 61-56 victory over Syracuse averaged a 12.2 rating on Channel 4, which was 94 percent higher than Kansas’ win over Ohio State a year ago and a record for a national semifinal here since the Buffalo market became metered in 2000.
Of course, there was a large rooting interest here because of all the Syracuse alumni and fans in the area and the fact that Michigan is coached by WNY native John Beilein. The rating peaked with a 15.1 at 11:30 p.m.
Louisville’s come-from-behind 72-68 victory over Wichita State averaged a 9.5 rating on Channel 4, which was 20 percent higher than Kentucky’s victory over Louisville a year ago. The rating for the Cards’ win peaked at a 14.0 at game’s end.
The two games had a substantially higher rating locally than they did nationally, which doesn't happen that often around here. The Louisville victory had an 8.7 national rating and the Michigan win a 10.2 nationally.
To further put interest in perspective, the rating for the Michigan-Syracuse game was 20 percent higher than the rating for Kentucky’s victory over Kansas in last year’s championship game. And the ratings for the semifinals were considerably higher than almost all World Series games have been getting here recently.
Nationally, CBS reports the Final Four games were the highest-rated and most-watched in eight years.
By the way, I am putting the over/under of how many times CBS’ cameras will show injured Louisville star Kevin Ware in tonight’s final at 20.
The over/under for how many times CBS’ cameras will show two of the former NBA fathers -- Glenn Robinson and Tim Hardaway watching their sons play for Michigan – is 15.
The over/under of how many times analyst CBS Clark Kellogg will say something interesting is two.
The over/under of how many times a referee's call will be criticized is one.
I had to laugh late last week when an ESPN reporter mentioned that Ware was tired from all the media interviews he had done, including staying up to read the Top 10 list on David Letterman’s “Late Show.” Staying up late? Letterman’s show airs at 11:35 p.m. but it is taped at 5 p.m. in New York City.
Many critics loved NBC’s “Hannibal” but Western New York viewers didn’t eat up its premiere on Thursday night in a difficult time period. The series opener starring Hugh Dancy – who is the husband of Homeland” star Claire Danes – had a 3.9 rating on Channel 2. To put that in some perspective, NBC’s “Smash” – which was moved from Tuesdays to the Saturday time slot where shows are sent to die – had a 3.8 rating in its first original airing on Saturday night opposite the men’s basketball games.
“Hannibal” finished fourth in its time slot here behind CBS’ “Elementary” (7.2), Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO—TV (5.5) and ABC’s “Scandal” (5.4) on Channel 7. It did beat Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news (2.8) on WNYO but only by 1.1 points.
Of course, as I wrote in Saturday’s Buffalo News, the battle really is all about the 18-49 demographic and those local numbers aren’t in yet.
Nationally, “Hannibal” reportedly had the best adult 18-49 demographic numbers in the time period in a year for NBC. But that isn’t saying much since the time period has been a disaster with “Do No Harm” only lasting a few weeks there.
“Hannibal” also seems to be having a decent word of mouth on social networks so its On Demand viewership should raise its ratings substantially.
NBC is getting some national criticism for airing one of its best 10 p.m. shows in years on low-rated Thursdays and giving a prized 10 p.m. time slot Tuesday after “The Voice” to another stupid reality show about young people falling in love. But once again, it is about the 18-49 demo and stupid reality shows about love often draw decent viewership in that category.
Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news rating of 2.8 last Thursday was unusually high compared to what it normally received on WNYO. Tonight is the first night Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news will air on WUTV, the stronger Fox affiliate. Channel 2’s News in expected to be much more competitive against Channel 4’s newscast at 10 but it may take some time. And the first night rating for both newscasts may take a hit because they will air opposite the Michigan-Louisville title game on CBS.